#CILDC Live Blogging: Seven Deadly Sins of Websites

I’m live-blogging at Computers In Libraries Today! View my other #CILDC posts here and here.

Here are my notes from #CILDC session B102 ● Seven Deadly Sins of Websites (Presentation slides here.)
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Casey Schacher, Resource Discovery Librarian, University of Wisconsin
Paige Mano, Web Communications & Social Media Coordinator, University of Wisconsin
Tony Aponte, Science & Engineering Librarian, UCLA

From the CIL program: Is your library site all it could be? Far too often, library websites harbor major usability and
design issues that prevent patrons from easily accessing the wealth of resources available
to them. Speakers evaluate real-world library websites using authoritative guidelines and
reveal the most common usability and accessibility sins being committed. Find out how your
library website stacks up: Is it a sinner or a saint?

My notes from the session:
See the website the presenters made for this presentation at tinyurl.com/librarysins.

Usability
Usability testing isn’t enough to make library websites better. Sometimes it takes research. Here, we’ll learn about authoritative guidelines for how to evaluate the accessibility of websites. Why do we care about usability of websites? She found 100% of the websites she examined had usability issues. Shacher likened a poor, un-usable website to having a reference librarian who’s grumpy and surly.

The website usability.gov provides guidelines for developing useful and usable websites. This team chose to focus on only some of these, and identified about 30 guidelines to pull into a 24-guideline checklist. They examined academic and public libraries, large and small. They used inter-rater reliability to develop and measure consensus among judges, and had “moderate” agreement. They counted how many times a library didn’t follow the 24 guidelines, and collected the top seven non-compliance instances into the…

Seven Deadly Sins of Library Websites: How To Avoid Them

  1. Comply with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires all Web content be equally accessible to people with disabilities (eg. make sure there are headings and tags so screen readers can pick them up; don’t use really tiny font; don’t use gray font on gray background)
  2. Avoid unexplained jargon that typical users will not understand. (examples of jargon include: college archives, eResource catalog; define jargon or use common language.)
  3. Format common items consistently from one page to another. (format phone numbers similarly, use headers and columns in the same ways on every page)
  4. Be consistent with elements such as colors, fonts and content location across all pages: aim for visual consistency. (label colors, menu location, character size, heading size—this allows for users to quickly scan the pages and allows for users’ muscle memory to work every time they visit the website)
  5. Organize information clearly in a logical
  6. The page layout should help users find the most important location. (use level of importance consistently) What’s the most important information? Make sure those items are most clearly accessible.
  7. Present an uncluttered display where all important search targets are clearly visible. (If you have too much stuff on your page, users won’t be able to find the most important items.) Pretty graphics don’t negate overabundance of text. (Use white space.)

What Can We Do To Save Our Websites?
We can be advocates for their good design and usability. Take advantage of professional development opportunities to learn about technology in libraries.

Hire the right tech people. Have staff dedicated to web services. Invest in this.

Use These Guidelines Yourself
Visit tinyurl.com/librarysins to view the slides from this session and to try using the guidelines checklist to evaluate your own website.

Follow me at #CILDC on Twitter @MiaBreitkopf.

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